Guest essay by Eric Worrall
No harm done on this occasion – but surely this is yet another reminder the world faces more serious risks than a gentle wobble in the global temperature.
‘Sonic boom’ in Dorset blamed on ‘fireball meteor’
An “extremely rare” meteor known as a daytime fireball has been blamed for a sonic boom-type noise heard across parts of England.
People in Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Jersey reported hearing a loud bang and seeing a streak of light in the sky on Saturday afternoon.
After analysing pictures and videos, experts confirmed they showed a meteor.
They have urged people to keep an eye out and report any fallen fragments of the space rock.
Simon Proud, a specialist in aviation meteorology at the University of Oxford, captured the meteor – which appeared as a bright flash – flying over the UK on a weather satellite.
…Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-56475333
Two larger meteors also brushed past Earth in the last week, including a 900m monster which could cause catastrophic damage if it ever strikes the planet.
Meteors are low risk potentially high impact events. The risk of a dinosaur killer, or a lesser large impactor which causes widespread damage without shattering the biosphere, is very low. But as the residents of Chelyabinsk discovered in 2013, even a small meteor can shake up your day.
Another notable event was the East Mediterranean Event, a nuclear scale airburst caused by a meteor which struck the atmosphere on June 6th 2003. The event occurred during the middle of a heated confrontation between India and Pakistan. Concerns were expressed that if the meteor had struck 3000 miles further East, over the India / Pakistan border, it might have been mistaken for a nuclear first strike.
The sad thing is the possibility of a Tunguska scale meteor randomly destroying a major city or even triggering a devastating nuclear exchange is a risk we could actually afford to address – at least to the extent of funding more surveillance.
The following is my favourite meteor video – high quality footage captured in Lapland.